Cyclist assaulted on bike path, former Amazon CFO killed in bike crash, confirmation Britel killer paroled

September 20, 2013

The last thing he remembers is a woman putting her hand on his thigh and pushing his bike over.

Somehow, I missed this story last month, when Jack Bornoff suffered serious injuries after he was pushed off his black and white Schwinn by a pedestrian, as he was passing her on a bike path in Balboa Park.

It happened on August 22nd, a Thursday, around 10 am.

I’ll let him tell the story.

I approached the intersection of Burbank and Balboa on my bike and I was riding in the bike path.  I turned onto Balboa northbound and was confronted by a view of a high density of pedestrians in both the northbound and southbound bicycle lanes, including 2 females pedestrians blocking the northbound lane directly in front of me about 50 ft. ahead.  Immediately, I slowed down.  I noticed 2 pedestrians walking towards me in the southbound lane who were at least 50 feet ahead of the 2 pedestrians in my lane and determined it was perfectly safe to pass on the left with this substantial interval between these pedestrian couples.  As I passed by, the female pedestrian closest to me placed her right hand on my thigh and pushed me.

It wasn’t just a fall. Bornoff landed with enough force to knock him cold, and suffered numerous fractures.

I have no clear memories beyond this for at least the next 10 to 15 minutes.  This incident resulted in numerous fractures of the clavicle, scapula and ribs including damage to my lung.

A month later, he still doesn’t know who attacked him, or why. Or even who might have helped him as he lay injured on the bike path.

If you were there and offered to help, thank you and I regret I don’t remember it.  However, if you were there and witnessed this happen, please come forward and notify LAPD Detective Thornton.  818-374-7792.  Case #9C4-4.   Thank you and be safe.

He plans to be back at that same bike path on Thursday, October 10th between 9:45 am and 10:15 am — exactly seven weeks after the attack — to look for witnesses. And would appreciate some help if anyone wants to join him in passing out flyers.

Or if you find yourself walking or riding in the area some other time, he’s prepared a small flyer you could distribute to people in the area (pdf).

Because it wasn’t just a push. It was a deliberate, dangerous assault that left a man seriously injured.

And it needs to be taken just as seriously.

………

Last night, it was just another tragic story of a bike rider killed in a left hook; a 22-year old driver turning his minivan across the cyclist’s path in San Mateo County.

Today, word broke that the victim has touched the life of virtually anyone who has ever used the internet or ordered something online.

Fifty-year old Joy Covey was one of the founders of Amazon. A woman whose 173 IQ took her from high school dropout to Harvard Business School, and on to become the CFO who helped the company grow from a book-selling website to the world’s dominant internet retail site. As well as leading it through a highly successful IPO in the late ‘90s.

She was working as treasurer of the National Resources Defense Council at the time of her death.

Initial reports indicated she was wearing a helmet. However, I’m told she may have been traveling up to 40 mph as she descended a steep downhill; in a broadside collision at that speed, no bike helmet is likely to offer much benefit.

As the links above show, there’s already been much written about her tragic death, and the immense and needless loss suffered by so many who knew and worked with her.

And it’s true.

Just as it is for the other more than 600 bike riders who will lose their lives on American streets this year, most of whom will never see their names in print.

In life. Or in death.

My deepest sympathy for Joy Covey and her family.

Thanks to Michael McVerry and Ralph Durham for the heads-up.

……..

Finally, last month we reported that Danae Miller, convicted in the drunk and distracted driving death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel, appeared to have been released from prison after serving less than half of her original sentence.

Now the Orange County Register confirms that Miller was paroled on August 15th after serving just 18 months of her original four year sentence.

Unfortunately, most of the story is hidden behind their draconian paywall.

However, I’m told that the story goes on to quote a member of the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee, as well as the Newport Beach city council member who heads the committee, as expressing their disappointment at the early release.

Get used to it.

California’s prison overcrowding crisis means most people convicted of traffic crimes will serve only a fraction of their sentences. Which means we need to find alternative forms of punishment — let alone rehabilitation, which seldom if ever happens behind bars — if we want to stop the carnage on our streets. Let alone the hit-and-run epidemic.

I’m told that Miller’s family was very supportive of her during the trial. Not in the usual sense denying her obvious guilt, but actually being there and giving a damn while expressing deep and genuine sympathy for her victim’s family and fiancé.

No word on where she is right now. However, there is speculation that she received the relatively light four-year sentence — she could have gotten up to 10 years — in exchange for a commitment from her family to place her in rehab immediately upon her release.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

And let’s hope that Miller, who already had 11 traffic violations on her record when she took Britel’s life, is never allowed behind the wheel of a car again.

Thanks to the OC Register for crediting this site with breaking the story. That wasn’t necessary, but it’s sincerely appreciated.

Now about that paywall…


A look at Camp Pendleton collision site; a killer driver may be back on the streets three years early

August 20, 2013

Our anonymous South Bay correspondent took a trip down to San Diego County in the wake of the Camp Pendleton collision that killed Udo Heinz and left fellow rider John Edwards critically injured.

Did you know you’re required to wear a helmet to ride at Pendleton? Learned that the Del Mar gate. So I own a helmet now. (And I want to read Heinz’s autopsy report to see whether his helped any.)

The site of the collision is on a shoulder-less stretch of two lane road, divided with a double yellow, between two guardrails. Signs indicate the bike route, set the maximum speed at 45 mph, and remind cyclists to ride single file. The shoulder completely disappears as the road crosses what appears to be a broad wash; the lanes may be substandard width, but I was too scared to stop to measure, partly because I was going too fast to discern whether there was non-sloping space on the other side of the guardrail to set my bike, and partly because there was just enough traffic to disincline me from stopping (or even slowing) long enough to find out.

The roadway’s in good repair; I didn’t notice any violent bumps or scary surface infrastructure like fissures or moguls. It’s certainly preferable to, say, Wilshire Blvd. This stretch of road is also completely straight, without even the gentlest curve that could possibly impair a driver’s view. The video from the NCTD bus shows absolutely no traffic coming from the opposite direction, although that video makes it seem as if the blind vertical curve ahead is much closer than it is. The hills worried me a lot more than the big vehicles on the road. In fact, the motorists on Pendleton seemed attentive and, frankly, kind of slower than I’d expected, not just in passing but generally. Passing through Oceanside afterwards was unpleasant in comparison.

New infrastructure on PCH stunned me. The stretch through downtown Oceanside is still bike-unfriendly, but going through other towns on the way to Del Mar blew my mind. There’s signage (regulatory & wayfinding), bike lanes, charming bike racks, bulbouts, ped-activated crossings with embedded flashing beacons, and even sharrows. Sharrows! On Highway 101! One town even had a portable message board parked in the median to inform road users what the heck these newfangled sharrows are for.

I crashed the memorial for Udo Conrad Heinz. Attendance was huge (I tried to count, but gave up after several attempts, and have to just estimate “well over two hundred”). Udo’s wife was clearly touched, and his son watched everything somberly with his great big eyes. I spoke very briefly with Susanne Davis, who left a comment on your blog, and she is hoping there will be a push now for a change in legislation to protect vulnerable road users, an Udo’s Law. (Also she mentioned in her comment the friendly attentiveness of the tank drivers at Pendleton, but part of this may be because she’s really attractive.)  The memorial touched everyone, family, friends, neighbors, fellow riders, former colleagues… I’m surprised the guy’s mailman didn’t show (maybe he did?) And the sunset was lovely.

On the return trip, I missed the Coaster because I was taking so many pictures of the aforementioned new infrastructure, so with darkness falling, I decided to catch the bus. I was standing under a lighted street lamp, wearing an extra large ANSI Class III hi-vis reflective vest, and shouldering a chrome bike with two reflective spoke cards. Also my bag, which has a prominent reflective stripe, was sitting on the bus bench next to me. I was almost blinded by the stupid blue-white high-intensity headlights of the approaching NCTD bus, which very clearly wasn’t slowing down or maneuvering towards the curb. I actually had to holler and wave to get the driver to notice me. As I boarded, I apologized sarcastically for my invisibility, and received no response. I’d hate to encounter this oblivious, unapologetic driver while riding.

Very shortly thereafter, the drivers changed shifts at a stop. The first thing the new driver did was wipe the front windows down. There was an amazing difference in visibility. The new driver said that it’s not a requirement for drivers to clean the windows, but it’s something he took upon himself to do as soon as he began driving Route 101, which is the coastal bus, because the sea spray builds up so fast. Sometimes, he said, he’ll even do it mid-route when it’s necessary.

………

She also reports that Danae Marie Miller, — the driver convicted of killing Orange County triathlete Amine Britel while allegedly drunk and texting — appears to be out of prison well before her four year sentence is up, with no public explanation.

Danae Marie Miller’s out of prison. There’s no record of her within the California Dep’t of Corrections & Rehabilitation, at any rate. She could have been “realigned” to a county or city jail (not in any of the half-dozen I’ve checked, though.) She could be under monitored house arrest. She could be on unsupervised probation. She could be out there drunk & texting on the roads at this minute. Amine Britel? Still dead.

………

LA’s hit-and-run epidemic hit a horrifying climax this past weekend, as four innocent victims lost their lives to murderous drivers who couldn’t be bothered to stop long enough to save a life in four separate incidents.

Including a 19-year old woman and a three-year old child.

It’s clear that we need to change the law to halt this bloody crime spree. Including making the penalty for hit-and-run equivalent to drunk driving, to remove the incentive to flee the scene if a driver has been drinking.

If the victim dies, the driver should face a murder charge on the assumption that the victim’s life might have been saved if the driver had stopped long enough to render aid or call 911 before fleeing like a coward — let alone lived up to their responsibility as a decent human being.

Yet as the Danae Miller case suggest, the current prison overcrowding crisis means that anyone convicted under such a law is unlikely to serve more than a fraction of their prison term. We need to take steps to insure anyone who flees the scene of a collision loses their privilege to drive for decades.

If not for life.

And the car they used to commit the crime is seized and sold, with the proceeds given to the victim; after all, you don’t give a bank robber back the gun he used.

………

Last chance to help the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition set the city’s priorities for biking and walking.

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The MyFigueroa project is set for final approval, including LA’s first, albeit reduced in scope, cycle tracks, which even AARP approves of. Though someone might want to mention to LADOT that there are space-saving alternatives to creating semi-permeable car-blocking barriers.

And Streetsblog reports you still have to worry whether the long-planned Expo bikeway will survive latest assault from the wealthy homeowners in Cheviot Hills. These are the same people who argued in the past that a bike path would put their homes at risk from bike riding burglars who might try to peddle away with their 60” flat screens.

Just as an aside, I will be guest curating Streetsblog once again tomorrow.

………

Don’t forget tonight’s public meeting to review recommendations to improve safety on PCH in Malibu. If you can’t make it, another meeting will be held on Thursday. This is your chance to stop another serial killer — this time, one of Southern California’s most deadly highways.

………

LA traffic would be a lot better if the city’s commuters would follow UCLA’s example. Only 51% of campus employees drive alone, compared to 70% of Los Angeles commuters — and nearly 75% of the university’s students use some form of alternative transportation.

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Finally, anyone into adventure cycling will want to follow the exploits of Reza Pakravan and Steven Pawley, who are just eight days into a planned 100 day, 11,184 mile ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa.

You can keep up with Pakravan and Pawley on Twitter as they make their way across three continents.


Two killer drivers — one stays at the scene and gets four years, one flees and gets no jail time

February 29, 2012

So let me get this straight.

A woman with 16 previous tickets runs down a cyclist while texting and drunk, and gets off with just four years.

Evidently, Danae Marie Miller got an early birthday gift. Although I’m sure she doesn’t think so.

Miller plead guilty on Tuesday to a single count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated. She had been facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison; she accepted a plea deal for less than half of that.

Her victim, Amine Britel, a world-class triathlete as well as a popular local businessman, was riding in the bike lane on San Joaquin Road just east of Spyglass Hill Road in Newport Beach last February 21st when he was run down from behind by Miller’s car — just one year and one week from the day of her sentencing.

Why she was even on the road that night is question our lenient traffic courts will have to answer. Or would, if anyone was paying enough attention to ask the right questions.

In the six years between 2005 and 2011, Miller received six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions, as well as tickets for driving the wrong way on a one-way street, failure to stop at the stop sign and two tickets for talking on a cell phone while driving.

A record like that should have been more than enough to get her off the road. If the courts had actually taken her obvious refusal to obey basic traffic laws seriously, a gifted athlete might still be alive today.

Instead, she was allowed to keep driving until she killed someone. Now her license has finally been revoked for three years as part of her sentence.

Just a tad too late, I’d say.

Despite initially claiming that she hadn’t been drinking, Miller had a BAC of over .10 nearly two hours after the collision after getting off work at the Zinc Café in Corona del Mar. And despite claiming that she never texts while driving, records showed that she had been texting just moments before killing Britel — though not, apparently, when she actually hit him.

Evidently, you’re not considered legally distracted unless you text WTF! at the exact moment you kill someone.

According to an anonymous source who attended the sentencing, the real surprise was that the two families seemed to be supportive of one another at the conclusion of the case, despite earlier anger.

The surprise in the Miller case is that the families, Miller’s and Britel’s, were amicable after the sentencing, talking with each other in the courthouse hallway. After the daggers I saw fly at Miller from the two members of the Britel’s family who had shown up at the prelim last December, I certainly would never have expected this, especially after the oral impact statements provided to the judge before sentencing. Miller’s family, however, had been very supportive of her, showing up at all her court appearances, so maybe this support will give her a shot at redemption, a chance to be a useful, productive, harmless member of society in the future; even Britel’s family seems to be hoping for this.

We can hope.

Danae Miller is just 23 years old, and spent Tuesday night in the Orange County Jail pending transfer to state prison. With good behavior, she could be back on the streets in a few years.

Whether she will have learned her lesson by then remains to be seen.

Her birthday is in a few weeks; she’ll celebrate it behind bars. Hopefully, she’ll appreciate the early gift she got in court on Tuesday.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling and David Huntsman for the heads-up.

Update: I neglected to mention that two civil suits have been filed against Miller for the death of Amine Britel; they were recently consolidated into a single case.

……..

In yet another example of our courts coddling killer drivers, the same anonymous source tells me that Renato Demartino entered a surprise guilty plea on Tuesday for the hit-and-run death of 22-year old Marco Acuapan.

Acuapan was also riding in a marked bike lane, on Walnut Avenue near Browning Avenue, on November 17, 2010 when he was rear-ended by red 2010 Mustang. The driver, later identified as Demartino, fled the scene, leaving his victim lying in the street with severe head injuries.

Acuapan was taken to a hospital in critical condition, where he remained in a coma until his death last April.

According to my source, Demartino was sentenced to just two years in state prison. And even that was stayed, meaning he is unlikely to spend a single night in jail.

Thankfully, his license was revoked for three years, since the court saw fit to let him out.

Seriously, he killed a man and fled the scene. And didn’t even get a slap on the wrist for heartlessly leaving another human being to die in the streets.

May I politely ask what the f*** is wrong with our legal system?

……..

One brief bit of good news.

The County of Los Angeles now has a shiny new bike plan, as the Board of Supervisors passes it on a vote of four to zero; Supervisor Mike Antonovich abstained because of questions about funding the plan.

And a planned Altadena bike boulevard was given teeth when the Supervisors voted to require traffic calming measures, rather than merely allowing as called for in the plan.


Insights and updates on Orange County bike cases — laughter or tears?

December 12, 2011

Over the past year or so, I’ve featured a number of updates on various Orange County and South Bay legal cases from an anonymous source.

Like the updates I get from Dj Wheels, I’ve come to trust and rely on the insights from this source to keep us up to date on cases from behind the Orange Curtain, which can be hard to follow from up here in L.A. — especially since these cases seldom make the news unless something major happens.

Today she sent me an email offering background information on a couple of cases that are slowly moving through the system. And I thought it was good enough that I wanted to share it with you.

This article from the Sunday Orange County Register shows why the OCDA’s office wants to nail Michael Dennis Roach (and his ilk) so bad.  (Roach is the drunken racer on PCH who hit another drunken racer, spinning both cars onto a segregated beach path.)  Things do not look good for Roach.  His co-defendent Glenn Michael Moore, on the other hand, has a much shorter rap sheet and a terrifyingly good lawyer.

Our drunk-driving laws are nauseating liberal.  MADD had to fight for years to get that excessively high .08 limit, and it’s so easy to circumvent in court.  In other, more civilized countries with a better grasp of public safety and/or neurochemistry, the limit is much lower, and the penalties are more appropriate.  Every year in America alone, more people are killed by drunk drivers than by firearms, knives, blunt objects, & strangulation combined, and drivers under the “legal” limit (but at .04 or above) account for 25% of these deaths.  Our laws fail to address the severity of the repercussions of dangerous operation of motor vehicles.

Danae Miller (um, for example) had a preliminary hearing on December 1st and naturally the judge decided that there is indeed enough evidence to send her to trial.  Miller’s due to be arraigned in a few hours;  I won’t be there because both Anita Sue “Stop Signs Don’t Apply to Me” Cherry and Adam Carl “Just a Witness” Garrett have appearances at a different couthouse.  However, an incredibly wonderful MADD victim services specialist assisting the Britel family will forward me the plea and any details.

Miller’s preliminary hearing was tedious, thorough and heart-rending. The D.A. called four individuals to testify; the defense called none.  The hearing included some of the evidence that will be shown if Miller doesn’t just plead guilty like Hines, including the video from the dashboard-mounted camera of the first responding officer’s approach to the scene, which showed Britel’s shattered carbon fiber bike lying in the gutter, front light still blinking.

Although it was dusk, the view of the roadway was completely unobstructed, the streetlights were on, and the bike had plenty of reflective material on the rims and below the seat.  Britel was wearing a yellow dayglo jacket with reflective material.  A blind man could have seen him.  Miller could not.

Evidence also included the dozen or so texts & calls made in the minutes preceding the collision, as well as Miller’s ratty ancient-tech flip phone, which she’d handed over to the first responding officer at his request after stating that she never texts while driving.  Two prior citations to which she pleaded guilty refute this remark.  Disappointingly, a Verizon custodian of records testified that there’s no record of the content of the texts sent or received.

Miller also initally lied to the police on scene about her intake of alcohol.  With bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, she first claimed she’d had nothing to drink prior to driving.  She then changed her story, saying she’d had “one glass” of wine about an hour prior to leaving work.  However, her BAC was measured at .105 and .106 from two separate vials of her blood collected approximately an hour and forty-five minutes after the collision.  (This amount was rounded down to .10.)

In questioning the D.A.’s theory of culpability, the judge requested a brief review of testimony in order to determine whether, as Miller’s lawyer attempted to suggest, the incident was a simple SWSS.  But Miller had never told investigators,  “I saw the cyclist ahead.”  She admitted to the arresting officer that the first indication she had that she’d hit something was the shards of her shattered windshield hitting her arm.  (At least she wasn’t too drunk to wonder what all the sparkly stuff was.)

After the hearing, I asked D.A. Hayashida whether Britel had a bike computer and whether the data had been accessed.  To my surprise, she admitted she didn’t know (!!!) but would look into it.  I’d squinted at the pics & video of Britel’s mangled bike, but could only see a dark blur to the left of the areo bars.  It just strikes me as unlikely that a serious, competetive cyclist wouldn’t have the bells and whistles that could pinpoint the location, sudden deceleration & trajectory of his bike… and possibly even indicate the exact time, to the second, when his heart stopped beating.

Incidently, Hayashida is also assigned to prosecute Adam Carl Garrett, so I expect to see her  again today.  AND (refer back to the Orange County Register article) she’s the one who nailed Dennis Malavasi.

Mad props to good stranger Heather Lohrman (hope that’s spelled right), who stopped at the crime scene, attempted to find Britel’s pulse, and ran up to Miller’s car to get the license plate number in case the perp decided to flee.  Another good stranger was present as well but his name was not released.

Just a quick and irrelevant note about Anita Sue Cherry:  Last month, only two days before her most recent scheduled hearing, her first lawyer (whose list of traffic citations is longer than Cherry’s) was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign.  And next Monday, her most recently retained lawyer (her first lawyer’s legal partner) has his arraignment for the DUI w/property damage he got in September.

I swear to God I’m not making this up.

Laugh, or cry?


Amine Britel killer faces 10 years; lots of links and a crowded weekend bike calendar

December 3, 2011

Danae Miller faces up to 10 year in prison for the death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel last February.

Miller is charged with a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, and was allegedly texting when she plowed into the rear of Britel’s bike as he road in a Newport Beach bike lane.

The question is why she was even on the road after receiving 16 tickets in just 6 years, including six tickets for speeding or driving too fast for conditions in just a three-year period.

Now Britel is dead and Miller faces serious prison time simply because, as Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt put it, a driver’s license is too easy to get, too hard to lose.

……..

Sgt. Krumer sends word that after speaking to the driver in the most recent Mandeville Canyon case, it wasn’t a case of road rage, as it seemed, but merely another driver who didn’t understand that cyclists have a right to ride in the roadway. And don’t have to move over when an expensive, high-performance Italian luxury car comes up from behind.

I don’t know what’s worse. A single road raging driver, or a state full of motorists who don’t know the law.

Fortunately, Sgt. Krumer says the driver now understands his mistake, and it’s not likely to happen again.

Now if we could just get him to speak with every other driver on the road.

……..

A minor Santa Clarita hit-and-run brings out the usual comments, ranging from apparent gutter bunnies who criticize other riders to drivers who think bikes don’t belong on the road — and even a few informed comments.

Note to Santa Clarita Signal — once a motorist drives off after hitting a someone, you can stop referring to it as a “possible” hit-and-run.

Thanks to John for the heads-up.

……..

Good advice: if you really care about the people who care about you, you’ll take the burden of making life’s most difficult medical decisions off their shoulders; I’ve put off completing my own advance healthcare directive far too long.

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Artists are invited to submit their bike-related work for Bikers Rule, an exhibition of bicycle art opening on December 8th. The deadline to deliver artworks for the exhibition has been extended, artwork may be delivered through December 6th; Submit a letter of intent and or a low res jpg to JohnnyMilwaukee@earthlink.net.

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Chances are, you’ve come across the famous Mark Twain quote “Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live.” But you’ve probably never read the full piece it came from.

Maybe you should.

It might just be the best smile you have all day.

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LADOT plans to redo the already damaged Spring Street green bike lane, and asks your help in staying off it until it’s ready. Streetsblog reports on Santa Monica’s bike signal detectors that have been popping up all over town the last few weeks. New solar lights now adorn the L.A. River bike path. Rethinking York and Colorado Blvds in NELA. After being sent back to the drawing board, the county promises a creative, visionary bike plan; then again, they could have done that the first time around. Remarkably, Malibu considers becoming bike friendly; thanks to the LACBC’s Alexis Lantz for forwarding the story. Riding in Riverside writes why he loves riding his bike. An interview with Sam Ollinger, a San Diego bike advocate and an author of one of SoCal’s best bike sites. A bike riding bank robber gets 14 years.

They seem to confuse the hell out of American drivers, but roundabouts reduce all crashes 37% and injury crashes by 75%, though poorly designed ones can put cyclists and drivers on a collision course. Bicycling offers advice on how to avoid eight common road hazards. Biking to break the cycle of obesity and bad finances. Regrettably, the always excellent Eco Velo will be calling it quits at the end of the year. People for Bikes says give other cyclists a smile or a wave when you pass; if you’ve encountered me on the road, chances are you’ve gotten at least a nod, anyway. Lovely Bicycle asks why women cyclists can’t discuss their bodies the way the guys do. A fascinating chart showing the muscles used when cycling. Seize the moment and live better through bicycling.

Tucson Velo reports on the sad non-cycling death of a popular local rider and bike shop owner; he sounds like someone we all would liked to have known. University of Oregon cyclists are surprised by the first bike traffic signal on campus. Olympic gold medalist Alexi Grewal abandons his improbable comeback attempt at age 50. When I linked to the absurdly anti-bike op-ed piece from Chicago columnist John McCarron the other day, I neglected to include a link to Steve Vance’s excellent point-by-point smackdown. A New Jersey cyclist is killed in a physically impossible crash, as the local paper reports he crossed on the wrong side of the road at high speed and hit the rear of an oncoming truck before caroming off into a tree.

The most popular and successful Critical Mass rides are the ones that avoid confrontation. Does it matter what you wear when you ride a bike? Uh, no. Attention Kiwis, Long Beach’s biking expats — aka Russ and Laura of the Path Less Pedaled — are headed your way. A 66-year old Borneo cyclist is killed just meters from her home. South African cyclists demand justice. And speaking of South Africa, I recently received the following email from Stan Englebrecht of Day One Publishing in South Africa:

I thought you might enjoy a project myself and a good friend have been working on for the last 2 years, called ‘Bicycle Portraits’. Our 6000 kilometer journey aimed to be a photographic study of South African commuter culture (something that is nearly non-existent here), but it’s turned into a portrait of a nation through the bicycles that they own and ride every day, revealing all manner of social, historical, class and cultural nuances never imagined. We are about to publish the best 165 portraits (from over 500 photographed) in book form, accompanied by 6 essays and beautiful watercolor maps for each portrait indicating where it was photographed. We are currently in the last phase of fundraising through pre-sales of the books (plus great extras like prints and special editions) on the wonderful Kickstarter platform.

Please have a look at www.bicycleportraits.co.za/kickstarter for our Kickstarter page, or visit www.bicycleportraits.co.za to see the project online – and please spread the word!

Finally, Rex Reese sends word of a mind-reading bike; if my bike could read my mind, it would probably refuse to carry me anymore. And a Chico CHP officer is injured just days from retirement in one of the strangest bike collisions I’ve read about, as he stops to aid a drunken rider.

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Bike Talk airs every Saturday at 10 am; listen to it live or download the podcast from KPFK.

Bike Long Beach hosts Bike Saturdays every weekend; ride your bike to participating local shops and business throughout the city to get special offers and discounts.

Flying Pigeon’s popular Brewery Ride is on tap for Saturday, December 3rd. Riders meet at the Flying Pigeon LA bike shop at 3714 N. Figueroa ST in Highland Park at 3 pm, and depart at 3:30; this month’s ride will go to the Eagle Rock Brewery in Glassel Park.

The Claremont/Pomona area hosts its own toy ride on Saturday, December 3rd, sponsored by the Kevin Unck Foundation, with support from Coates Cyclery and the Back Abbey. Thanks to Michael at the Claremont Cyclist for the heads-up.

Walk Bike Glendale invites riders to join them in the Montrose Christmas Parade on Saturday the 3rd. Meet at 6 pm between La Crescenta and Rosemont Ave. on Honolulu in Montrose; contact Rye Baerg (rbaerg (at) gmail (dot) com) to RSVP.

The CXLA cyclocross takes place this weekend at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, with events rolling from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday the 3rd, and continuing through the same times on Sunday the 4th.

Sunday, December 4th, the LACBC is hosting its first ever evening Sunday Funday ride to celebrate the holidays. Meet at the Rotary Club Christmas Tree Lot, 568 N. Larchmont Blvd, at 4:30 pm. The easy two-mile family-friendly ride will stop to admire decorations, sing some carols and enjoy cocoa and cookies afterwards.

Join the Bike Oven in riding in the 67th NELA Holiday Parade on Sunday, December 4th. Wear festive clothing and meet at the Bike Oven, 3706 N. Figueroa St, at 11:30 to decorate your bike for the parade.

Monday, December 5th join the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition for a ride and rally before the WeHo City Council meeting in support of the recommendations by city’s Bicycle Task Force for a more bikable West Hollywood. Meet in front of the community center at Plummer Park at 4:30 pm, rolling at 5 pm sharp.

December 6th through 10th, Antenna Magazine’s Re:mix Lab will hit L.A. after a semi-national tour, featuring two urban Bad Boy bikes designed by Cannondale in cooperation with Junk Food Clothing. The art, music, fashion and cultural festival will unfold at 401 S. Main Street.

The West Hollywood Bicycle Task Force presents An Evening of Moving Beyond the Automobile: West Hollywood’s Commitment to Active Transportation (scroll to bottom) on Wednesday, December 7 from 7 to 9 pm in the Community Room of the West Hollywood Library, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd.

LA Streetsblog is hosting an End of the Year Party on Thursday, December 8 from 7 pm to 10 pm at St. Andrews West Los Angeles, 11555 National Blvd. Streetsblog parties are always a good time, and well worth the suggested $25 donation; however, head Streetsblogger Damien Newton promises no one will be turned away if you can’t afford it. Chances are, you’ll see me there.

Friday, December 9th, the Midnight Ridazz host what may be the most important ride of the year, when they ensure that thousands of L.A. children will have a happy holiday with the 6th Annual All-City Toy Ride. Routes will begin from points throughout the city, converging on Downtown L.A. to collect the toys and celebrate the season. If you can’t make it, try to donate a few toys somewhere; every child deserves a toy for the holidays.

Santa Monica Spoke invites you to ride some of the streets included in the city’s new Bike Action Plan on Sunday, December 11th starting at 9:30 am; details to follow.

Tuesday, December 15th, Women on Bikes SoCal will host an Evening with Mia Birk, national bike advocate and head of Alta Planning. The evening begins with a bike ride starting at the downtown Bikestation in Long Beach at 5 pm, followed by appetizers, mingling and Birk’s talk at Open Bookstore, 2226 E. 4th Street.

Tuesday, December 27th, the LACBC returns to Santa Monica’s Library Alehouse for the 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Merriment, 2911 Main Street. Good beer, good friends, bike valet and a portion of all sales goes to support cycling in the great L.A. area. What’s not to like?


Charges in Carlsbad and Fountain Valley cycling deaths; bold plans for WeHo, new bike plan in SaMo

August 8, 2011

Lots of things are happening on the SoCal legal front.

To start with, Julianne Thompson of Carlsbad has pleaded not guilty in the hit-and-run death of 64-year old cyclist Arthur Jacobs; she was found hiding in some nearby bushes shortly afterwards with a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit. Thompson faces up to 15 years on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run and drunk driving.

According to the stories, she’s remorseful. Yet the victim is still dead.

So how does that balance out?

……..

Sources tell me that Adam Carl Garrett, the 19-year old driver accused of killing cyclist Hung Do in a Fountain Valley hit-and-run then calling police pretending to be a witness, has been charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run without gross negligence and hit-and-run with permanent and serious injury.

As one reader put it,

I don’t understand the “without gross negligence” part, but I’d have to say that, yes, death is “permanent and serious.”

As members of the LAPD have repeatedly pointed out, charges are based on what the DA or City Attorney’s offices think they can prove, rather than what police believe really happened. Without witnesses, and with the additional time for any possible intoxicants to pass out of the driver’s system allowed by the hit-and-run, it would be very difficult to make stronger charges stick.

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I’m also informed that the family of Amine Britel, the Newport Beach triathlete killed while riding in a bike lane last February, has filed a lawsuit against the driver. Danae Miller was reportedly texting and driving under the influence when she hit Britel’s bike from behind; with her driving record, I’d recommend settling quickly.

……..

Word from the LAPD indicates that charges will soon be filed — if they haven’t already — in the hit-and-run death of Alex Romero, the 17-year old cyclist killed by a speeding car while riding with a friend on De Soto Ave. last April. And charges may not be limited to the driver; they could include others who allegedly attempted to help her cover up the crime.

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Renew your membership or make a donation to the LACBC now and AdventureCorp will match it up to a total of $10,000 in honor of fallen endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman.

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Get a first look at the newly unveiled draft of the Santa Monica Bike Action Plan when the Santa Monica Spoke hosts a meeting with Santa Monica Deputy Director Lucy Dyke tonight from 6 pm to 8:30 in the Colorado Community Room, 502 Colorado Blvd.

Meanwhile, West Hollywood’s Bicycle Task Force proposes a bold plan to make the city more bike friendly, including removing parking spaces to extend bike lanes along busy Santa Monica Blvd and a road diet on Fountain Ave. to create a protected bike lane along the curb. Not to mention aligning other proposed bike lanes on Fairfax and Vista/Gardner with bike lanes included in the new L.A. bike plan.

We can only hope bike-unfriendly Beverly Hills is paying attention, and plans to do something about that gaping black hole marring biking on the Westside. And needlessly risking the lives and safety of everyone who lives and rides there.

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The L.A. County Sheriffs Department is looking for a stabbing suspect who killed a man along the L.A. River Bike Path in South Gate; if you rode the trail the last Friday in June, maybe you saw something.

And according to KNBC-4, L.A. police are looking for a hit-and-run suspect who struck three pedestrians and a parked car in a space of two blocks in Downtown L.A. Sunday morning. But maybe someone else can point out the logical disconnect in this sentence, since KNBC clearly doesn’t get it:

An investigation is underway as to whether or not these accidents were intentional, police said.

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It’s time to rethink North Figueroa. Streetsblog looks at the less-than-promising Woodley Ave. bike lanes. LADOT wants your help to survey L.A. bike racks. Metro moves forward on bike share. Full bike parking at the Grove. Those of us born with an competitive gene have to be reminded from time to time not to underestimate anyone; I have to fight the urge to ride down anyone on the road ahead of me. Funny how often the Times photo of the day features bikes. Will gives new meaning to L.A. River Ride by actually riding in the river to connect the gaps in the trail. The South Bay section of the beachfront Marvin Braude Bike Path is about to get a much needed facelift; hopefully the county will get to the cracked and crumbling Marina section before it completely falls apart. Ashley Tisdale rides with her dog in Toluca Lake. An update from Amarillo on the L.A. firefighters riding across the country to honor victims of 9/11.

More information on Cody Wessel, the 19-year old Wildomar cyclist who was killed in nearby Lake Elsinore on Friday. Bike thefts are up in Newport Beach, where police search for Ashton Kutcher and Colonel Sanders. A blind cyclist rides a tandem 240 miles from Santa Barbara to San Diego. A Santa Barbara writer says we could solve a lot of problems with those three little words: share the road. An SB teen is riding across county to raise money and awareness for a program allowing the homeless to live safely in their cars. The Bay Area is facing a pedicab war; yes, Microsoft Word, pedicab is a word so get over it. I missed the unique importance of these new microwave red light sensors in Pleasanton the first time around; thanks to Road.cc for the clarification. Palo Alto attempts to calm traffic and build boulevards. A bike path that doesn’t connect to anything may be a waste of money, but some idiots still don’t get it — it’s the cyclists who are subsidizing the roadways, not the other way around. African American cyclists get blessed in Oakland in an attempt to get more on the road.

New Tron-style wheel rim lights could keep you safer at night. How to not be invisible when you ride. Cycling is good for you, even if you’ve been a couch potato. A graphic illustration of why bikes are good for rural economies. This is why you don’t buy cheap carbon frames off eBay. How is it that Sitka AK is bike-friendly and L.A. isn’t? Misdemeanor charges for killing a Colorado cyclist. It wasn’t easy coming up with that crappy name for the upcoming USA Pro Tour Cycling Challenge; after a top 10 finish in the TdF, Colorado’s Tom Danielson could be one of the favorites. A thief who stole seven bikes from Idaho’s World Relief returns three with an apology. Newly minted Montanan Dancer a la Mode sends word of a DUI fatality that’s gripping the local community. Oklahoma authorities have arrested a suspect in the 2009 hit-and-run death of an 8-year old girl; there’s not a pit in hell deep enough. A Chicago cyclist is killed on her way home from Lollapalooza after falling underneath a dump truck. Massachusetts authorities can now ticket cyclists, but can’t force them to pay.

Turns out bike share saves lives; I wonder if the results would be the same here in L.A. with our lack of cycling infrastructure. How to be an ambassador for cycling. Southern California isn’t the only place where cycling fatalities are on the way up. Pro cycling’s most successful team is folding at the end of this season, while star rider Mark Cavendish may jump to Team Sky; thanks to George Wolfberg for the head’s up. Cycling prodigy Taylor Phinney will compete in this year’s Vuelta a Espana, after winning his first stage since turning pro. Israel revokes their mandatory helmet law for adults. Three years in prison for a rickshaw jockey who chewed off a cyclist’s ear in a road rage incident.

Finally, the unofficial highlights of the Tour de France. And a cyclist rescues a crawfish from the mean streets of Salinas.

If you missed Sunday's Brentwood Grand Prix, you missed some great racing. Don't make the same mistake next year.


Possible cycling fatality in Santa Maria, pedestrian killed in unreported Westside hit-and-run

July 19, 2011

I’ve received an unconfirmed report of a cycling fatality in Santa Maria on Monday. According to an anonymous source, a 73-year old man was struck and killed at the intersection of Betteravia and Sinton Roads just after noon; rescue personnel were unable to resuscitate him and he was declared dead at the scene.

More details as they become available.

Update: Fortunately, this one turned out to be a false alarm; the report was based on an undated internet story referring to a collision that occurred last year.

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Streetsblog reports on a fatal hit-and-run that never made the news, on the same night an allegedly drunk/distracted driver plowed into a group of cyclists in Culver City.

The collision took the life of a pedestrian crossing Venice Blvd at Motor, just 1.25 miles from the other incident, in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 16th. The victim was walking with the light when a dark colored Volkswagen Jetta ran the red light, then sped off to leave him dying in the street.

Anyone with information is asked to call call the West L.A. Traffic Division Officer O. Osbourne at 213-473-0234.  If you’re calling after-hours or on the weekend, please call 1-877-LAPD-24-7.

……..

Danae Marie Miller is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on September 22nd in Newport Beach on a single count of felony vehicular manslaughter in the February death of triathlete Amine Britel. She reportedly was texting and had a BAC of .10 at the time of the collision, and had 16 prior tickets for moving infractions.

……..

As racing resumes after yesterday’s rest day, Thor Hushovd wins stage 16 of the Tour de France; defending champ Alberto Contador must have resumed eating Spanish beef as he gains precious seconds on the leaders.

Evidently, I’m not the only one who thinks this year’s tour is anything but boring. Dave Moulton says keep an eye on Samuel Sanchez. A lasting, if somewhat gruesome, image to show how tough Tour riders really are. Current TdF leader Thomas Voeckler says he has no chance of winning.

Meanwhile, Lance goes to court to demand an investigation into apparent grand jury leaks, saying the Justice Department is trying to destroy his legacy in the court of public opinion. And Alexander Vinokourov closes out his dope-marred career; sometimes I wonder if the cyclists banned for doping are just the ones who got caught, though others might disagree.

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Streetsblog’s Damien Newton bookends Carmageddon with a preview on Fox 11, as well as offering a wrap-up with his usual insight; he says there are just too many freeways. Riding to Carmegeddon Ground Zero. GOOD wants you to imagine L.A. without cars; isn’t that what Carmageddon was all about? Police save the 405 from the indignity of being ridden by 200 or so cyclists. Local officials hope the positive Carmegeddon experience will encourage Angelenos to drive less; I give it maybe two weeks tops.

A mathematical follow-up to the great Bike vs. Jet race. Yes Magazine looks at the cyclists who beat an airplane, while Time Magazine evidently misses the part about Gary Kavanagh finishing 2nd on Metro.

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The Sacramento Bee offers a semi-tongue-in-cheek list of 11 things thing the pros do that you shouldn’t when you ride your bike.

I realize they’re trying to be funny while making a point. But personally, I’m getting pretty fed up with all the attacks on cyclists who wear Lycra bike clothes; anyone who thinks riders wear spandex to fit in or be fashionable doesn’t have a clue what road riding is all about.

Experienced riders know that road biking shorts and jerseys are designed to provide for maximum comfort and performance over long distances at relatively high speeds by wicking away moisture and preventing chafing while minimizing drag caused by loose, flapping attire.

But nobody says it’s mandatory. Street clothes are perfectly fine if that’s what you want to wear, especially when riding shorter distances or at slower speeds.

So if you don’t like Lycra, don’t wear it.

And anyone who thinks shaved legs are about “primping” has never tried to field dress a gashed calf 40 miles from home.

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Bikes Belong gives a grant to the LACBC to study the economic impact of a road diet on York Blvd; the results could provide much needed support for bike projects across the country. The Westside Cities Council of Governments meets at the VA on Thursday; coordination of bike planning and potential funding sources is on the agenda. New Miracle Mile bike racks prove popular. Surf, skate and bike at the Architecture and Design Museum. A discussion of bike share in Santa Monica. Cycletracks are coming to Temple City. Sometimes it only takes a new grate to help make a street a little safer. A Whittier veteran rubs elbows with royalty to promote the Ride Against Homelessness Bike Ride.

Your next Felt could be a little more affordable. Three Newport Beach teenagers are arrested as bike thefts spike. No charges yet in a Ventura hit-and-run. The correct answer to “where to ride your bike” isn’t “somewhere else.” Another Californian has been busted for Biking Under the Influence after colliding with a car. A mountain biker dies after losing control on a Lake Tahoe trail.

Road ID offers a great series on the rules of the road, including videos with bike lawyer Bob Mionske. A new bike can help leave even the worst disappointments behind. Lovely Bicycle defines what bicycle safety means to her. Elly Blue looks shows how disability doesn’t mean a lack of ability when it comes to riding a bike. A look at the Bike Lady of St. Ignatius MT; thanks to new Montanan and former Angeleno Dancer al a Mode for the heads-up. Springfield Cyclist wins not one, but two bikes. A Chicago man complains about the way ghost bikes look over time. It takes a genuine jerk to door a 6-year old and say “I hope you learned your lesson, young man.” A Princeton fusion researcher is killed on the final day of a 500-mile charity ride. NYDOT turns a safe and pleasant commute into a potentially deadly ride. No bike share station on DC’s National Mall.

A new London gym offers indoor bike parking and bike repairs. A British teenager rides on water to raise money for charity; thanks to Rex Reese for the link. Now that’s what I call cycle chic. An English cyclist riding across Africa has all his gear stolen, except for his bike and passport. A fascinating, if lengthy, look at the Rwandan Cycling Team from the New Yorker.

Finally, a Boston cyclist says yes, we are trying to take over the streets.


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